All Above: Visual Culture and the Professionalization of City Planning, 1867-1931

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All Above: Visual Culture and the Professionalization of City Planning, 1867-1931

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Title: All Above: Visual Culture and the Professionalization of City Planning, 1867-1931
Author: Ross, Rebecca
Citation: Ross, Rebecca. 2012. All Above: Visual Culture and the Professionalization of City Planning, 1867-1931. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University.
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Abstract: This dissertation is developed around questions of how cultural fascinations with seeing the city from above are intertwined with the birth and development of the city planning profession. To explore this question, I examine three contexts linked to already-familiar episodes from the history of city planning: Paris in the aftermath of Haussmann-ization, the visual approach of proto-planner Daniel H. Burnham, and the New York region in advance of the rise of master-planner Robert Moses. These settings serve as a basis for a reoriented approach to understanding how and why a new category of experts tasked with intervening in urban conditions emerged. Among other views, Paris is seen from the height of a tethered hot air balloon; San Francisco and Chicago from Twin Peaks and the roof of the Railway Exchange Building, respectively; and New York from the lens of a Fairchild aerial camera, as well as from the 86th story of the Empire State Building. The sublime experience facilitated by such vistas undergirds the discussion. It is employed to recast existing historical accounts of the birth of the city-planning profession at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries to more deeply reflect its interaction with the proliferation and subsequent breakdown of a visual culture of "the city" from above shared amongst experts and citizens alike.
Citable link to this page: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:10288472
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